Search This Blog

Welcome to my blog

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Read all about it- some good can come from newspapers!

 Life can get pretty hectic and busy at times and we need to remind ourselves to take time out and de-stress. Today, at Burwash Manor, the public had the opportunity to do just that with the paper bowls making workshop run by myself (Lisa Smith) as part of the Festival of Making for Access Art.
During the day passersby dropped in and learnt how to put to good use their old newspapers. Using a very simple method of rolling bits of paper using a tube and then coiling; people of all ages were able to successfully produce their own paper bowl.
I loved the air of calm and experimentation within the marquee. People experimented with the shapes of their bowls and discussed other projects that could be made out of the bowls such as layering them to make Christmas trees, gluing them on top of each other to make space ships, making them as gift baskets ... the list went on.
This activity is lots of fun, affordable and accessible to all. All you need is a newspaper, a glue stick and something to roll the newspaper up with such as a balloon stick, large straw - even a ruler. It is a great activity for fine motor skills, co-ordination and dexterity - plus a great confidence booster. But be warned - this can get addictive! Many of the people that popped into the marquee only planned to make a small bowl and found that their bowls kept growing and growing.
The rain didn't put anyone off joining in and even Cambridge radio came alone to find out all about the fantastic opportunities Access Art provide to the public. To find out how we got on have a look at the pictures below.
 Rolling the newspaper around the plastic tube to make the building units for the bowls
Me demonstrating how to roll the paper
 Coiling the newspaper ready for making the bowl. Father and daughter work as a team
 Adding points of interest and personalising the bowl with extra detail
 Even Cambridge radio came along to find out about the Festival of Making with
 Access Art and to learn how to make paper bowls
 Finally Painting the bowls using acrylic paint, see some of the fabulous finished items below

 The proud owner of this beautifully blended bowl shows off the finsihed product
 Stunning lavender bowl
My examples of painted paper bowls on display

There are still more events taking part at Burwash manor as part of the Festival of Making. If you have not been along yet have a look on the Access Art website and find out what creative fun you can get up to
To find out more about my work have a look on my website

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Endangered species

This blog is all about showcasing some of the outstanding young artists that I have had the opportunity to work with recently. This year I have prepared, planned and delivered ten art weeks across the schools in Basildon. All the Art weeks have been designed around each schools theme or agenda focusing on the following aims :
  • To raise confidence and aspirations of young people.
  • To provide a wide range of opportunities to all students irrespective of age or ability.
  • To promote community cohesion within the school – bringing the school and local community together through art projects.
  • To create a strong student involvement in the steering of Art Week work.
  • To enhance Art development, level of risk taking and promote new ideas and techniques.
  • To support economic well being by providing a range of ideas that are accessible and affordable
The images on this blog are from the Art week delivered at Fairhouse Community Infant School. The objective for this project was to create 6 sculptures of endangered species which are the names of each of the classes within the school - Orang-utan's Panda's, Tiger's, Eagle's,  Elephant's and Turtle's. I wanted the pupils of the school to explore a variety of approaches and experiment with ideas, information and resources in order to develop project intentions.
I worked with each class to build their sculpture using traditional sculptural materials such as chicken wire and mod roc. With the help of the pupils we made the basic shapes out of chicken wire, then covered these with newspaper and padded areas out where appropriate, finally covering the sculpture in modroc. During the process we spent time comparing and commenting on differing ideas, methods and approaches used by artists, crafts people and designers to create art work; relating to the context in which the work is made.

The method of constructing the sculptures involved a range of processes that enabled each child to participate regardless of their age or ability. Pupils needed to apply numeracy skills to work to scale and create the basic shapes for each animal. Some pupils enjoyed the tactile quality of applying the modroc and generally getting messy. Whilst other that felt confident in their painting skills had the opportunity to shine, applying marks and images to the sculpture.
Here are some images that show the making process and the final products produced during this week.
          Delicately placing mod roc onto the newspaper covering the frame.
 Making the turtle armature and frame using chicken wire,
cardboard, newspaper and a lot of tape!
 All the sculptures were painted to represent the animals natural habitat. The children discussed where the animals live and like to be and painted this onto the sculpture using acrylic paint
 All of the sculptures were given names as they were worked on by the children. Here you can see Jake the Tiger being painting. During the painting process the children explored mark making, blending techniques and how to mix colours.
 In this picture you can see Mia the Panda being painted. The children chose to paint Bamboo and small pandas onto the sculpture. Can you see the painted pandas on the table cloth? I demonstrated how to use simple brush strokes to create a panda and then the children practiced on the cloth before they painted on the sculpture. In this picture you can see one child practicing and one child painting directly onto the panda. This built the children's confidence and showed them how effective it can be to use delicate marks and make full use of the brush.
 The finished African Elephant. I love the simple design on this sculpture.
The children decided to paint our Nellie like a sun set and then
 add images of African people and plants onto the sculpture.
 Here is the finished Tiger Jake, he is decorated with a range of Jungle plants and animals.
Even the parents joined in painting this piece!
 A beautiful sky with a stunning tree was painted onto the Eagle. Using a limited palette the children blended the colours fantastically to create a really sublime background. If you look closely in the tree you may even see a couple of eagles perched on the branches.
 The completed bamboo painted panda.
 I love the small delicate pandas painted on this sculpture and the contrast of colours. The letters on the head of the panda should be F C I S, for Fairhouse Community Infant School.
 The reception children painted this sparkly underwater scene on Bert the turtle.
We had great fun singing under the water songs while painting and sprinkling glitter
- creating a range of exotic fish and seaweed to decorate our turtle.
 For some reason I don't have a picture of our rain forest Orangutan, but if you look at this group picture you will see him in the centre of the group.
Prior to the art week, I carried out a training session with staff at the school demonstrating how to use mod roc and create relief designs. Alongside the animal sculpture project the teachers led an additional activity. Every child was presented with a wooden circle to complete their own uniquea design on with each class focusing on a different theme from under the sea, sunflowers, letters and alphabets, aliens and landmarks. Using art straws, rolled paper and masking tape the teachers helped the children created their designs and then covered them using modroc. These were then decorated using a range of mixed media.
The circles are going to be displayed inside and outside the school in small groupings.
Some of the finished circles are pictured below.
 How fabulous do these numbers look created by the receptions children?
These are going to be displayed in the garden and used as a learning aid.
 Multi coloured sunflowers and sparkly under the water sea scenes.
If you would like to find out more about having an Art Week project at your school, please contact me through my website

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Big Draw part 2

Day two for me on The Big Draw, the sun was shining and Aviva Square was buzzing with potential budding artists. Our task today was to run the Drawing Stall. A brilliant project with a very simple idea: do a drawing and exchange it for another drawing on our stall. No money swapped hands, the only currency we took was peoples drawings. On our stall was a range of fruit, veg and traditional London tourist icons such as the London bus, telephone box, tube etc. People were encouraged to select their item or items, or even draw some of the stunning surrounding architecture using a wide range of materials. Drawing materials available included pencils, coloured pencils, charcoal, felts and chalks. I was really impressed with how many people jumped straight in and used the felts. I am not sure if we were just lucky enough to have lots of confident artists at our stall or if felts offered that instant mark, that memory of childhood and called to people to explore what they could create using a medium that - lets face it is not know for it's blending and colour mixing qualities. Over the course of the day our stall was very busy and filled with some gorgeous art work made by families, couples, groups, children and of course The Drawing Stall team, Sarah, Bea and myself.
 Anyone seen a pencil?
 Can you spot my spelling mistake - never mind, this chalk pavement drawing did the trick and enticed people to join in the activities put on at Aviva Square
 This stunning drawing was completed by an actor, we had a really interesting conversation about how therapeutic art can be - how as adults we don't allow ourselves to spend five minutes a day taking  break from our busy lives to relax and concentrate on us. Drawing, music, a good book all offer us the chance to escape from our busy lives and escape to a different world. We should all make a conscious choice to find 10 minutes a day for ourselves - everyday -without fail - what do you reckon?
 An amazing drawing completed by one of our young artists, love the life and colour in this piece
 Sarah's Warhol style bananas - needless to say these didn't last long be fore they were exchanged for new drawings
 One of Bea's amazing sketches, I love her mark making, use of line, colour and intricacy. A beautiful mysterious drawing
 A member of the public drawing a fantastic picture of a marrow. I was really impressed with how everyone picked up the felts straight away and didn't shy away from colour, no fear of "what if it goes wrong - I can't rub It out". I think a lot of people found the activity liberating.
 Towards the end of the day I decided to make some origami shirts and draw on these - how seductive do these look?
 Other activities available as part of Sundays Big Draw included `Put yourself in the picture`. Passersby were encouraged to draw themselves or the architecture on large piece of paper taped to the boardings. We are so used to drawing on a small scale this was an excellent opportunity to people to think big. One lady stayed for nearly an hour completing a large scene - drawing the crowd around the square. Now tell me what would that lady have down if The Big Draw had not been there. Being creative is such a rewarding experience and this July's Big Draw highlighted how easy and accessible drawing can be, if you can give yourself the time.
 The drawing tours were very busy, with large groups taking time to walk around the local area, take in the architecture, learn a bit about perspective and explore mark making.
 In the marque there was a fantastic activity where you could make a mini sculpture inside a matchbox. There were very intriguing and completely addictive. How amazing do these look?
 Anish Kapoors sculpture served as a beautiful looking glass reflecting the cardboard city built by all ages from all walks in life.
In Diagon Alley oops I mean Leadenhall Market artists showcased there work as part of the art fair and even created some works on site.

Overall I have learnt that I love drawing outside, I love watching and inspiring people explore their drawing skills and surprise themselves, I enjoyed being part of a exciting and creative community and most of all thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you missed out this time, have no fear The Big Draw is back in October. Keep a look out on The Big Draw website for further information

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Take a closer look!

Today I was lucky enough to take part in The Big Draw in London. Based at Aviva Square, The Big Draw team set up around 12 different creative activities with one aim in mind - to get people drawing! The campaign was inspired by the Victorian artist and writer John Ruskin and brings communities together through a wide range of activities including the print bike, the drawing stall, the chalky van, frame the city, animation, putting yourself in the picture and much more.
I spent the afternoon on the `putting yourself in the picture` stall. What amazed me the most out of today's activities was how many people DID not say "I can't draw". It was really exciting and inspiring to watch the public embrace their creativity and enjoy mark making, drawing, animation etc with no fear of judgement or criticism. People from all ages and all walks of life came along to take part in the events.
Inspired by the local architecture and the new sculptures placed around Aviva Square The Big Draw began and this is what we got up to...
 Franz West, Garden Poof outside Hiscox
 Some of the stunning architecture around Aviva Square
 The scroll for the activity Put yourself in the picture is started
 The public took part and got creative adding to the scroll.
 We decided it was too windy in our location so relocated in Aviva Square, new architecture to draw and more passersby to add their dialogue to the working document.
 My sketch of my hand
 A lawyer drew this stunning image of the surrounding architecture

 How cool is this? The chalky van, a van covered literally from top to bottom in chalk paint ready to embellish with chalk - Genius. Participants spent all day decorating this van with images drawn in picture frames of what they were up to in London today.
 The postcard wall
The drawing stall where the only currency is your drawing, you draw and picture and buy another picture with your creation.

If you like the look of the activities today and feel that you have missed out, have no fear - The Big Draw is back tomorrow Sunday 10th July. Activities take place in and around Great St Helen's, Undershaft and Aviva Square, EC3
12.00 - 5.00pm, unless otherwise stated, and are suitable for all ages.
All materials will be provided free
12.00pm & 1.00pm
Spaces Between Buildings
Cartoonist Martha Richler leads fun, accessible pencil and charcoal sessions that encourage children and adults alike to set aside the skyline and explore the spaces in between. Pockets of hidden wildlife, City greenery and people provide the inspiration.
Reserve a place on arrival at the Information Point in Aviva Square
The Gory and the Gorgeous
Expert drawers from London's premier architectural and engineering offices will show you how to make views and produce ideas on a storyboard encompassing past and future. Reflect on the area's history of plague, murder, executions and casual cruelty alongside its splendour. Learn top tips for drawing perspectives and using shadows to make 3-D drawings. Work individually or as a group to make a large sculpture trail drawing. Led by Sketchmob founder Trevor Flynn and landscape architect Ian Wale.
Reserve a place on arrival at the Information Point in Aviva Square
Discoveries in Animation
Animate the imagery reflected in Kapoor's Sky Mirror and inspired by Opie's sculpture, Three Men Walking, and create your own walking, running or jumping people to populate the café gallery or to take home on a CD. Led by filmmaker Tess Laurence with University of Westminster students.
Reserve a place on arrival at the Information Point in Aviva Square
Eight Centuries in Two Hours
Take your sketchbook for a walk with Val Chris, Blue Badge Guide, and discover how the ancient and new combine to create a city of contrasts and hidden gems from St Helen's Church to The Pinnacle. Finishes at the Royal Exchange.
Reserve a place on arrival at the Information Point in Aviva Square
Sculptures in a Matchbox
Make a mini-3D construction with artist Sarah Bridgland. How many sculptures will your box hold?
Design and Decorate your own City
Be a city planner for the day with artist Nicola Burrell. Build your own relief paintings and sculptures inspired by the urban scene using recycled card, paper and tons of colour.
Monuments to the Future
Use recycled materials to design and create your own models for monuments with sculptor Matt Caines, taking inspiration from the new sculpture trail and the Gilt of Cain in Fen Court.
Location: Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, EC3. Finishes at 4.30pm.
Frame the City
Use pattern, shape and texture to evoke the atmosphere of this unique setting with the help of a viewfinder, guaranteed to make drawing easy and to produce great results.
Drawing Stall
Capture the essence of the objects on display, all of which have local or city connections. Help to fill and decorate the only market stall where no money changes hands. Barter your creations for those made earlier by artists, or by other visitors.
Put Yourself in the Picture
Sign into the giant Big Draw Visitors Book with a doodle, sketch or mini-masterpiece.
See you there!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Making for it's own sake

One of the things that I love most about working with children is their ability to embrace materials, get stuck in and enjoy making an object and not worrying about it's context, it's theory, it's use of material etc etc. Well it appears I had forgotten that if you provide the right bohemian atmosphere, enough materials and pimms - adults can do the same!
This Friday I joined Access Art for the launch of the Festival of Making at Burwash Manor in Barton, Cambridge. Organised by Paula Briggs and Sheila Ceccarelli, the Festival of Making is all about celebrating hands-on making, creating opportunities, getting involved and having a go! The evening was very successful, it was nice to see all adults embracing their artistic side, Access Art created a fun and friendly atmosphere that removed barriers that would normally intimidate `non art types` from joining in the activities.
Everyone from all walks of life and all ages joined in the fun and made an array of scrumtious food for the Festival feast table, including victoria sponge cake, a slice of chocolate cake, ice creams, a bottle of bubbly and even a pint to name but a few. The band playing was a nice touch and a selection of art by local artists was exhibited alongside the Access Art Marquee.
 How to make a Claes Oldenburg inspired Ice Cream Oyster -
1.First get two paper plates and stuff with newspaper.
2.Cut some strips of modroc.
 3.Cover the plates with modroc
4. Cover the newspaper with tissue paper
5. Paint the tissue paper the colour of your ice cream
6. Paint the Oyster claim and finally squirt on some chocolate sauce (or brown paint in this case)
 7. Voila an Oyster made from junk!
 After the oyster I got a bit carried away and made these all sorts out of felt material
 Our collection of scrummy dishes for the feast  - the bakewell was made by my husband.
 When making my pieces I automatically thought of Claes Oldenburg a Swedish sculpture. Oldenburg has created large scale sculptures of everyday objects that can be found in public spaces all around the world, and to quote:
"A common object (applied to public sculpture) is a perfect meeting place--I have always found--of subjectivity and objectivity, inside and outside. I turn to objects out of my isolation and self-reflection, but in objects I discover society, and in objects society discovers itself as well. Common objects are a device for the reflection of their surroundings."
--Oldenburg, 1980
Interesting fact! Oldenburg is supposedly one of a few artists that has their work displayed on the moon in the moon museum!
 Claes Cake
The event was a fantastic opportunity to network , and embrace the opportunity to make and create just for fun. If you would like to find to more about Access Art or join in the Festival of Making during the month of July then visit for more information.